When doctors told Bryce's parents that their newborn needed surgery for Hirschsprung's Disease, mom knew all too well what they meant. She, too, was born with the disorder that disrupts normal development of the intestines - and had gone through multiple surgeries and a temporary colostomy as a child.
What she didn't know was how much the treatment for this disease has changed. All Children's Minimally Invasive Surgery Program is one of only a handful nationwide that incorporates robotic technology to perform delicate surgeries on even the smallest patients.
"Bryce is a good example," explains program director Andre Hebra, M.D. "The technology that allows us to do laparoscopic surgery on small babies has been available for about a decade. But now with the daVinci Robotic System, we can perform more complex surgeries in babies as small as Bryce."
Bryce was just three months old when his family made the trip from their home in Stuart on Florida's east coast to an All Children's surgical suite. A healthy-sized baby, he looked almost tiny surrounded by the equipment required to perform this procedure. Through three small incisions, the surgical team inserted tiny instruments and a camera into Bryce's belly. The instruments are robotically linked to a control console in one corner of the operating room, where Dr. Hebra was literally surrounded by the camera images from Bryce's belly.
"I have this three-dimensional view - I really feel like I'm almost inside the patient's body," Dr. Hebra explains. "And because you have such precise control of the surgical instruments' movement with your fingers and hands, it gives you this feeling that you're in total control."
Dr. Hebra says there are probably less than five children's hospitals in the country with such technology devoted to advanced level surgery in babies and young children. And Telethon dollars helped to make that possible. Says Dr. Hebra, “we're very privileged and very grateful to have this.”
Almost as grateful as Bryce's parents. Barely 24 hours after surgery, Bryce was eating and playing in a crib on the hospital's fourth floor. "I mean, he was lifting and kicking his legs," said mom, "which after having abdominal surgery is incredible."
"He didn't even have stitches," added dad, "just three little band-aids on his belly."
Even better - he won't need the temporary colostomy or additional surgeries that his mom had experienced and feared. Just 48 hours after surgery - Bryce and his parents headed home.
"We are just amazed," said dad. "This has truly been a miracle. We are so thankful."
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